“ Author: Ben Elton „
I?ve just finished reading Dead Famous. Funnily enough this is the first book I have read written by Ben Elton although I know other people have recommended reading others such as Popcorn. The book is bears an uncanny resemblance to the first Big Brother and I could compare some of the characters with those contestants such as Craig and Nicola. But, this is Big Brother with a deadly twist ? a murder! I?m not giving anything away by telling you this, as the murder has already happened before the book starts but not until a good half way through do you find out who it is and everyone seems to have a motive. The story follows the inmates in ?House Arrest; behind the scenes of the television world and the local detective team investigating the murder. Quite scarily after reading this book, if I had any inclination to apply for the next Big Brother I certainly do not now! Elton even adds his own spots of humour and although I?m usually a crime novel reader, this was a light and refreshing change even though it was about murder. Throughout the story the evidence gathers and suspects change so you?re never quite sure ?who dunnit?, everyone has a motive ? but just how far will they go to win the game? Some surprising twists and turns that kept even me guessing (and I guessed the end of Sixth Sense and The Others)! If you like crime or want to get in the heads of Big-Brother-like contestants; and can bear quite a lot of swearing for an excellent read then?. READ THIS!
I really never liked the man. As a stand up I found him annoying and I'd quickly switch channel if he came on TV doing an interview. I wasn't even especially keen on some of the programmes he'd written. But as an author he can't do much wrong in my eyes. I've read 4 of his books to date and thoroughly enjoyed every one. Not only hilariously funny, his books are also very sharp, clever and sometimes moving. Elton's own opinions seem to come across strongly in much of his writing and, whether or not you agree with his beliefs, they are certainly thought provoking & have the ability to make you question your own. Unlike some authors i have read he hasn't chosen a particular subject he enjoys writing about and milked it to death. Instead, his work is varied, innovative and most importantly hugely entertaining. I've found each of his books so far totally 'un-put-down-able' and I highly recommend them all. Even if you hate the man i guarantee you will not be disappointed!
I seem to remember hearing Ben Elton say in a radio interview once that he didn't like cynics. If so, that's a shame, because he's done so much to promote the cause of cynicism. His first novel, for example, was called *Stark* and is about an exceedingly rich, exceedingly greedy, exceedingly selfish Australian businessman who is plainly modelled on Rupert Murdoch. That's the same Rupert Murdoch whose support was so assiduously cultivated by the Labour Government before the general election in 1997. That's the same Labour Government whose chancellor and third most powerful figure (after Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell) is called Gordon Brown. That's the same Gordon Brown whose wedding-celebration party was attended by Ben Elton. And yes, that's the same Ben Elton whose passionate, principled opposition to big businessmen like Rupert Murdoch led him to write books like *Stark*. See what I mean about Elton doing so much to promote the cause of cynicism? Though I wouldn't say he's done very much to promote the cause of English Literature or the English novel. *Stark* is like two or three hundred of his 1980s stand-up routines nailed together to sail the choppy waters of a plot about a small group of exceedingly wealthy businessmen escaping the Earth whose eco-system is about to collapse irrevocably because of their activities. There are two hippies modelled after Neil in The Young Ones, a hapless left-wing heterosexual white male, a thuggish right-wing heterosexual male, a competent left-wing heterosexual female, and two heroic, down-to-earth Aboriginals, plus assorted evil white male businessmen. And if the Australian villain and Aboriginals hadn't already made you guess, it's set in Australia. I've also heard that Elton, whose passionate, principled opposition to big business has helped him earn a great deal of money, owns a piece of land in Australia that he refuses to let be developed.
He visits it regularly with his wife to enjoy its unspoilt beauty, and though he didn't say I'd guess he doesn't do so by paddling an eco-friendly dug-out canoe there and back again. No, I'd guess he travels there in one of those large, eco-unfriendly jet-planes, though I don't think his passionate, principled opposition to big business has earnt him enough money yet for him to afford one of his own. Though give him time, I suppose. Kant said that morality consists in acting as though we wished to make the basis of our action a universal principle. The way people live in the West -- wastefully and extravagantly -- fails the Kantian morality test, and the way Ben Elton lives fails it by a wider margin than most. If everyone lived like Ben Elton, the eco-system wouldn't be very healthy for very long. He reminds me a lot of the Duke of Edinburgh or Prince Charles, who lecture the rest of us about the need to defend nature and wildlife while leading lives that the earth could not possibly support if more people took them up. Cynical but true.